Wednesday, June 3, 2009

And speaking of international perspective...

At there is a section on Asian history, and in it there is an article by Kallie Szczepanski describing the events of June 3, 1989 (twenty years ago today) at Tianamen Square in Beijing, China. Let us just say that it is not the official Chinese version. Go and read it for yourself if you aren’t old enough to remember what happened when some students erected a statue and decided to call it the Goddess of Democracy. It looked very much like our Statue of Liberty, and that didn’t set too well with the Chinese leaders of the day.

Very few images of that time survive because China’s government tried to suppress or destroy them all. But an Associated Press photographer named Jeff Widener managed to smuggle out some stunning photographs. We have him to thank for knowing what one brave man was willing to do to stop the tanks of the People’s Liberation Army.

According to, “In 1989 Chinese authorities violently clamped down on pro-democracy demonstrators that had filled Tiananmen Square. Today, the square is still a vital center of Beijing, but references to the deadly events of June 1989 are kept tightly under wraps by the Chinese government and draw swift retaliatory action.”

China says that 241 people were killed in the massacre, but according to Western sources 4000 is probably closer to the truth.

The article is three pages long but well worth the reading. Here’s the link:

Tianamen Square, 1989

Here’s the Goddess of Democracy.

Here’s the iconic photograph, taken with a telephoto lens from Jeff Widener’s hotel window, of the man referred to as “The Unknown Rebel” or “Tank Man.” The man was eventually hustled off by two other men; no one knows who he was or what happened to him.

And here, perhaps most interesting of all, is a recent interview with Jeff Widener by Kallie Szczepanski.


  1. I remember being riveted to the coverage of Tianamen Square and admired the bravery of that lone man.

    Today is also my in-laws' 58th anniversary.

  2. All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.--Edmund Burke

    And vice versa.

  3. very interesting post, the links to the interview and photographs were welcome.

    thank you for bringing your blog to bear on this very important and historic event.

    nuff said,

    and thank you again for sharing,



  4. I made the man in front of the tanks my new desktop. I wish I knew what became of him.

  5. The world should never forget, in spite of China's efforts to the contrary.

  6. Frontline on Public Television had a remarkable documentary last night about Tank Man and censorship and one-party dictatorships. The DVD is available from for $29.95, I think.